TNS is 10: Interview - Amy Winehouse
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And all that Jazz... Simon Campbell talks life, music and Michael Jackson with one of the new musical sensations of 2003 – jazz diva Amy Winehouse. Think of a jazz singer and what do you see? A chubby guy, wearing black glasses, smoking something, trying to look cool and sounding American? Perhaps. A streetwise girl from London town? Possibly not. Stereotypes mean nothing to Amy Winehouse. Sassy, sexy and sanguine, she is as far from the traditional jazz singer as it is possible to get. Still only 20 years old, her debut album Frank has had the critics drooling and, with the likes of Jamie Callum, has brought UK jazz to the 21st century masses. Imagine a mix of Ella Fitzgerald, Lauren Hill and Ms. Dynamite, and you come close to describing Winehouse’s vocal style. With one of the most distinctive voices around and some quality production you have one of the albums of last year. From the outset it is clear that music is a very important part of this North London girl’s life, and has been for quite a while. “When I was little I used to love Michael Jackson,” she declares in the most quintessential of London accents. “Bad was the first album I had. My trouble was that I couldn’t decide whether I wanted to be him, or marry him. I remember my aunties went to see him and I was so jealous. I was too little to see him, I was about four or something at the time and I was like “they’re gonna go and spend the night with Michael Jackson!” Her father’s love of jazz clearly had a strong influence on the young Amy but her influences go much wider than just Dinah Washington and Miles Davies. “Well it wasn’t until mu teenage years that I found jazz to be my music. By that point I was listening to a lot of hip hop, girl hip hop, a lot of female rappers. Me and my friends loved Salt n Peppa. They were the first girls to put what it’s like to be a real girl into rhyme. None of this ‘I love my man whatever he does’, but a real girl who doesn’t care about what people think.” Frank is an album filled with this sentiment; in every way an independent woman, Winehouse has seen a lot in her 20 years and is not afraid of sharing her experiences. The album’s release in October 2003 saw the culmination of a project that begun a long time before.
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